Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Episode Twelve (Adaptation. / Arsenic and Old Lace)

Yes, I'm aware that Adaptation. was in the wrong spot on my shelf. It's fixed now. Can we let it go? Good.

Adaptation. (2002)

Director: Spike Jonze
Writers: Susan Orlean (book), Charlie Kaufman  and Donald Kaufman (screenplay)
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Chris Cooper, Meryl Streep

For me, this film perfectly represents the "fridge brilliance" trope. At the end of my first viewing, I was left disappointed and confused by the bizarre turn the film takes in its final act. It wasn't until I was reflecting on the film a couple hours afterwards that all of the pieces clicked into place and I was able to see clearly through the thick haze of meta. Once that happened and I realized that the great performances were, in fact, in service of a very clever script I was able to confirm that I loved the film. Having trouble adapting a novel to the screen? Why not write about yourself having trouble writing about it? Then create an imaginary sibling to help you co-write this screenplay about your inability to write a screen adaptation of the novel. Easy peasy.

Score: 9 / 10

Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)

Director: Frank Capra
Writers: Julius J. Epstein and Philip G. Epstein (screenplay), and Joseph Kesselring (stage play)
Stars: Cary Grant, Priscilla Lane, Raymond Massey

Concurrently holds the top spots among my favorite screwball and black comedies. A light-hearted farce about serial killers featuring a great cast hamming it up for the camera. I know that Grant regarded this as his worst performance, but I don't think such a ludicrous story called for subtlety on his part and I consider it one of his most enjoyable roles. For that matter, it is probably also my favorite performance from Peter Lorre as Dr. Einstein. For me, most comedies wear thin after repeated viewings - this is one of the very few that I can watch over and over again and laugh every time. The only nitpick I have about the movie is that I would have loved to have seen Karloff recreate the role he played on stage. Other than that minor point this movie is perfect to my eyes, ears and funny bone.

Score: 10 / 10

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